Road Biking adventures

Capitol Reef Scenic Drive

Northern Utah

1. Near Logan and throughout Cache Valley, rural roadways pass through small towns and farming communities nestled among a patchwork of agricultural lands. Wetlands lure an array of migratory birds and wildlife while the Bear River Range and Wellsville Mountains create alpine backdrops. On Highway 89, Logan Canyon National Scenic Byway, dramatic canyon scenery competes with frequent sightings of technical rock climbers inching up craggy slopes and fisherman casting baited lines to unsuspecting trout. The ride up Blacksmith Fork Canyon ends at the Hardware Ranch elk refuge. And along the 45-mile Bear Lake loop, thoughts of a creamy milkshake blended with fresh Bear Lake raspberries will quicken the pace.

2. In the Ogden area the Pineview Reservoir loop passes many lake-side cafes, including the Shooting Star Saloon in Huntsville, Utah's oldest continually operating saloon. Take a side trip to the Trappist Monestary to snack on fresh baked breads topped with honey made by these resident monks. The Snowbasin Road is an advanced-level hill climb rising to the base of Snowbasin Ski Area; views of the rugged Wasatch Mountains above and placid Pineview Reservoir below are compelling.

3. Road bicyclists of all abilities, and rollerbladers, too, can be found spinning effortlessly along the paved Davis County Causeway to Antelope Island State Park. Distant sights of the Wasatch Range reflect off the Great Salt Lake's ever blue waters and its marshy shore lures an array of waterfowl. Those with added stamina can extend the tour by following the island's paved 8-mile loop road. On the mainland, you can tour the lake's eastern shore along the level, 34-mile Great Salt Lake Bicycle Route.

4. On the west side of Weber and Davis Counties, numerous rural roadways can be linked together for a tour along the shore of the Great Salt Lake. Pack along binoculars to view an array of migratory waterfowl that are attracted to the lake's wetlands.

5. A bicycle is the ideal way to tour Salt Lake City's historical sights centered about Temple Square. Designated bike lanes parallel many outlying city streets as well. For a natural getaway minutes from the central business district, pedal up City Creek Canyon immediately northeast of the state capitol. Bicycles are allowed up the paved canyon road on odd-numbered days, whereas vehicles are allowed on even-numbered days. Or overlook the entire Salt Lake Valley from the Wasatch foothills on Wasatch Boulevard between 3900 South and Big Cottonwood Canyon.

6. Near the state's capital, Salt Lake City, bicyclists can venture up a number of canyons carved into the central Wasatch Range. Emigration Canyon is an all-time favorite because of its moderate grade, low traffic, and trickling roadside creek. Brigham Young and Mormon Pioneers descended Emigration Canyon to the Salt Lake Valley 150 years ago to culminate their historic trek. Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons are reserved for strong bikers; each ends at ski resorts surrounded by alpine beauty.

7. Those who have a burning desire for distance riding can set out on a century ride around the Oquirrh Mountains, which passes through Salt Lake City and Tooele. And west of Tooele, there are endless miles of vacant roadways.

8. Farther south in Provo, the Alpine Scenic Loop Highway is a challenging route curving around Mount Timpanogos. Verdant forests, glacial valleys, and chiseled peaks beckon your camera's lens. Park City cyclists frequently race through Browns Canyon to Kamas, and those with exceptional endurance cross the Uinta Mountains along the scenic Mirror Lake Highway between Kamas and Evanston, Wyoming. The Heber-Charleston-Midway loop is a moderate ride on mostly flat terrain passing through this trio of Swiss-heritage towns.

9. If you want to tackle your first century ride, try the 100-mile loop around Utah Lake west of Provo; it's mostly flat.

10. The 66-mile Mount Nebo Loop begins in Nephi and loop's around a wilderness area that boasts the Wasatch Range's tallest peak. A long, steady climb is offset by a rocketing descent.

11. Glowing sandstone landscapes balanced by forested mountain slopes highlight many of the routes found near Vernal and Dinosaur National Monument on the Uinta Mountains' eastern slope. In Central Utah, the Fish Lake-Loa loop begins at a rustic lakeside lodge and winds through high plateaus draped with aspen forests.

Southern Utah

1. Cycling is part of the appeal of Fremont Indian State Park south of Richfield. Use it as a base camp for exploring nearby Clear Creek Canyon, or set out on a multi-day tour through open ranges and fertile farmlands from Marysvale to Panguitch. If climbing long grades is your forte, tackle Beaver Creek Canyon from Beaver to Elk Meadows Ski Resort. The Tushar Mountains' 12,000-foot peaks tower over this stream-cut gorge.

2. The Arches National Park Scenic Drive has 22 miles of paved roads leading past redrock fins, towers, and petrified sand dunes. A spur road branches to the Windows Section, where short foot trails take you to (and through) numerous rock spans.

3. Canyonlands National Park's Island in the Sky district has 18 miles of pavement. Viewpoints overlook colorful desert strata dropping thousands of feet to the Colorado River and Green River.

4. Capitol Reef's National Park's 12-mile-long Scenic Drive ends at Capitol Gorge, where you can dismount and hike through a slot canyon enclosed by colossal sandstone walls.

5. Thirty-five miles of paved roads in Bryce Canyon National Park lead to numerous viewpoints, where rock amphitheaters composed of orange-white pinnacles, spires, and monuments break from the plateau's forested top.

6. At Zion National Park, the Parus Trail takes you 1.7 miles from Watchman Campground to Zion Canyon junction. From there, pedal the Scenic Drive up Zion Canyon beneath sheer cliffs to Gates of the Virgin River Narrows--a watery corridor hemmed between 2,000-foot-high sandstone walls.

7. National Parks are the focal points of multi-day tours, too, if you choose to pack up your panniers. A classic loop ventures from Zion National Park's warm slickrock desert to Cedar Breaks National Monument's cool forested plateau.

8. The route from Zion to Bryce Canyon National Park follows several scenic byways. Near its end the road enters Red Canyon, where brilliantly colored rocks are eroded into enchanting shapes. From Bryce, head to Escalante, cross the 10,000-foot-high Aquarius Plateau, and descend to Capitol Reef National Park for the ultimate adventure.

  • In Moab, the La Sal Mountain Loop is an all-day trek from desert to mountain slope and back. In the Four Corners Area, the Trail of the Ancients follows roadways that trace the paths once traveled by ancient Indian tribes across wooded plateaus and sun-baked deserts.

These, plus a wealth of other mountain biking routes throughout Utah, are described in books by author Gregg Bromka, Off-Road Publications.

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